How a black bear’s attempted break-and-enter made a wish come true

story and photos by Laurie Sarkadi
EDGE Online
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A few years ago I drove to Fort Providence with my neighbour to learn how to make a traditional Dene drum. I’ve been on the hunt for bear grease ever since. Last night, after a bear was shot and killed at the same neighbour’s house on Ingraham Trail, I got my wish.

To condition the drum – made of elk hide because caribou are so scarce – our teacher, Laura, provided us with a small tub of bear grease to rub into the skin to prevent it from drying and cracking. The grease was nearly translucent and buttery smooth; it had none of the gamey, pungent smell I’d been expecting.

If anything, it wafted faint hints of meadow and crystal clear water, and so did my hands – which four days later retained a youthful, silky feel. I knew I was onto something good.

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New date for Yellowknife diamond factories

EDGE Online
Monday, September 15, 2014

Deepak H. Kumar has been tweeting up a storm since June 17 when he revealed to the world that his company, Deepak International Ltd., had finally closed the deal to purchase two former diamond factories from the Government of Northwest Territories.

The purchase price was $1.795 million, not the $1.9 million list price Dave Ramsay, minister of Industry Trade and Investment breathlessly announced in January 2013, just as he was leaving on a tour of diamond centres in Europe.

Kumar initially said the factories would re-open in May 2013. That was extended to later in 2013, and then this year. The delays were caused by paper work, Kumar told the media, the unexpected complexity in getting all his ducks in a row.

In his latest tweet, Kumar told a writer for the New York Times that the factories will open before the end of this year.

First crack: Wiseguy’s Numbers, dining in Old Town

by Jack Danylchuk
EDGE Online
Friday, September 12, 2014

Wiseguy Robin Wasicuna is riding to the rescue of Old Town’s Dancing Moose Café. He’s taking over the 35-seat diner Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the next few months and last night offered up a sample of starters to showcase his skill and dedication to the art and craft of cooking. For the three nights when Wasicuna is in the kitchen, the Moose will be known as Numbers.

We – a handful of media types who could be counted on to blab widely, if not knowledgeably, about the food – got four of nine possible choices from three groups of starters. According to my scorecard, there were two hits and two misses.

The misses – roasted florets of cauliflower with cumin-scented ketchup and olive oil and beets with sour cream perfumed with garlic and dill – weren’t far off the mark. Under-cooking left the brassica rubbery and insipid. Over-cooking robbed the beets of flavor and texture.

The hits were dead centre. Solid bites of the meaty Great Slave Lake ‘ling cod,’ AKA burbot, were accented by slivers of crisp-and-salty duck skin and a dab of aioli (a fancy name for mayo) with a hint of juniper. Pork shoulder, slow roasted and pressed, was lifted out of the ordinary with a dusting of charred lime, a sliver of not-nearly-hot-enough chile, and a dollop of cauliflower cream.

There are a dozen items on the menu, ranging in price from $8 for the beets and cauliflower, through $12 for the cod or pork, to $18 for an entree of the cod or $28 for rib eye with a chimmichurri sauce. Ideally, Wasicuna would like to see his tables filled with groups of four or more, sampling and sharing. If they ordered all 12 items on the menu, the tab would be $170 – a modest $42 a seat, not including wine or beer.

I’m an avid consumer of street food in Mexico, but I’ve never eaten from Wasicuna’s truck, so this was my first encounter with his approach to food, which he sees as nothing less than a challenge to every other chef in Yellowknife to do better with the ingredients at hand.

Raising the bar in a town better known for high prices than great food is admirable, but it also invites comparison with dining experiences in cities where everyone takes food seriously. As I left, I couldn’t help thinking that if I was in Lima this week, I would be lining up for Mistura, Peru’s annual celebration of its brilliant gastronomy. But you have to start somewhere, and Numbers is on the right track.

Numbers is open 6-9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Reservations recommended. Call 444-9040.

McLeod appeases Beaulieu, fires valued public servant

by Jack Danylchuk
EDGE Online
Friday, August 22, 2014

There are lots of ways to get fired, but doing your job isn’t usually one of them, unless you work for the Government of the Northwest Territories.

That’s what Sheila Bassi-Kellett discovered after she was fired as deputy minister responsible for Human Resources on August 1.

According to an EDGE YK source, it happened after her boss, Minister Tom Beaulieu, told Premier Bob McLeod that he had to choose between the highly regarded administrator with 25 years of service, and himself, recently forced out of the Health portfolio by discontented MLAs.

The issue was not Bassi-Kellett’s competence, recently recognized for a job well done by no less an expert on these matters than Premier McLeod himself.

The GNWT confirmed that in a press release issued today. It belatedly thanked Bassi-Kellett, and said she was fired “without cause…There is no suggestion that her dismissal (was) related to her performance.”

Beaulieu wanted her out because he was upset about how the department handled a hiring situation in which he had a preferred candidate. Questioned about the details, Bassi-Kellett declined comment on her dismissal.

Instead of telling the minister to simmer down, McLeod knuckled under, sticking taxpayers with the tab for Beaulieu’s ultimatum.

As a senior public servant with a long and unblemished record, Bassi-Kellett is in line for two years salary, but that’s paltry compensation for the destruction of a successful career far from over.

EDGE YK’s source said the Bassi-Kellett saga has sent a chill through the public service. Senior administrators serve at the government’s pleasure (code for we can fire you any time we want) but employers usually have the grace to make the departure painless for everyone.

When the Bassi-Kellett story makes the rounds, competent public servants might be inclined to cross the GNWT from their list of possible career moves.

Fire threat to Yellowknife, real and imagined

story and photo by Jack Danylchuk
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
EDGE Online

Minister Michael Miltenberger was quick to blame public anxiety over wildfires on uninformed social medial commentators, but his own words and statements on the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s website have done as much to fan the flames.

In an interview with CBC radio last week, the minister marveled at how quickly one fire advanced: 1.5 km in 10 minutes. “An unheard of rate,” Miltenberger said. “We have to be incredibly responsive. Things are changing in some instances hourly if not by the minute.”

Experience this year has “reinforced what we’ve seen for a number of years, fire seasons are starting earlier, and lasting longer. The level of drought has broken all records; fire behavior is changing and that is the new norm,” Miltenberger said.

So far in 2014, more than 300 fires have burned almost 3-million hectares of forest. As of last week, the bill for fire suppression was at $36 million, and accumulating at $1 million a day. If the season continues into September, the tab could hit $50 million. Much of that will leave the territory with imported fire crews and aircraft.

Miltenberger’s attack on social media commentators – in which he claimed “the ill-informed were pontificating to the uninformed” – came as firefighters and aircraft grappled with Fire 85, a blaze burning up the forest 27 kms west of Yellowknife. Amateur fire-watchers could do the math as well as the minister. Fire 85 could reach the city gates in just three hours. The government’s own website is no less alarmist.

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Forest Fires: In a crisis, less (information) is not more

On EDGE: Opinion
by Jack Danylchuk
Friday, August 8, 2014
EDGE Online

Forest fire season didn’t get my attention until mid-July, the time in a normal year when rain quenches fires sparked by early summer electrical storms and wind carries away the smoke that can leach the heat from the warmest day.

This year has been anything but normal. Instead of rain, dry electrical storms swept across the territory, setting off small fires that grew into cells and vast complexes that gorged on the tinder dry forest, filled the sky with smoke and blotted out the sun.

The fires burned into the dog days – rich fuel in the slowest time of year for news media that spread breathless reports of communities threatened, or evacuated. The public joined in with pictures of vast, anvil-shaped clouds of smoke and fire raging at the edge of the forest in a long, livid line.

What finally piqued my interest was a report that fire was “at the city limits,” where a large fuel dump and the airport are situated. I rode out on Highway 3 toward Behchoko, and rode, and rode and rode. There was no fire. Soon after, it was reported that a blaze was 10 km from the city, and then seven. Wrong, and wrong again.

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Issue 15: August/September 2014

Need a smoke break? We hear you. After you’ve finished your rain dance, why not check out the August/September issue of EDGE YK, guaranteed to quench your thirst for YK-focused stories, photos and art you just won’t find anywhere else.

Recently crowned CBC Canada Writes winner Patti-Kay Hamilton shares a tale about a drug search in an Old Town shack in the ’70s, Jack Danylchuk takes you on a search for polar bear diamonds and we introduce you to photographer Carole Musialek. Plus we dish on who has the best travel rewards program if you just want to skip the closed highway and fly away from it all…and much more.

Before you click on Carole’s cover image above or download a PDF here, enjoy poet Matt Fournier’s flame-inspired Forest Fire Days:

Life is a movie in sepia
Hidden under curtains of smoke.
The sun is a bloodshot eye
Making the day a hangover.
It hangs like the orange tip
Of a cigarette,
Round and glowing as if it were
A harvest moon.
And it’s as if the smoke is the result of
God lighting up.
Everyone below is ready to leave,
To evacuate,
With stinging eyes,
Heavy lungs,
Wrinkled noses.
Walking around in a stupor
Of oxygen deprivation
And asking
What’s the plan?
What’s the plan?
Who knows the plan?
Someone is holding out on them,
And like God,
Only he or she knows the plan.

From artistic heaven towards bureaucratic hell

On EDGE: Opinion
by Brent Reaney
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
EDGE Online

As a magazine publisher, we think about stuff like trademark, copyright and intellectual property a little more than most. When Courtney Holmes submitted the “little tree” concept that would eventually become our December/January 2013 cover, we loved it right away:

But we also thought there would be some sort of trademark held over the iconic air freshener. Checking into it, on their website we found a clear and valid explanation for why you can’t use the shape of the air freshener in just about anything.

But then we saw this:

Then again, lawyers make enough money as it is. If you really want to use one of our trademarks, why not ask us first? We have often said yes. Just ask the people behind many of the movies, TV shows and advertising campaigns that have featured our brands.

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EDGE YK Solstice Slam - Saturday, June 21

Click on the event poster above to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

Taking the FREE bus to the FOTR site? Here’s the schedule for the evening:

From City Hall to FOTR Site: 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

From Coyote’s to FOTR Site: 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12 a.m.

The last bus will leave the FOTR site, dropping people off at the Coyote’s parking lot and then City Hall, at 2:30 a.m.

Issue 14: June/July 2014

Our June/July issue is now online. Click on Tim Van Horn's cover image to read the issue or download a .PDF here.

We know these are the warmest, longest, days of the year in YK, so we appreciate your desire to get outside and enjoy them. This issue will inspire you beyond the requisite camping trips.

There’s EDGE YK’s guide to best outdoor dates, an invitation to our FREE Solstice Slam dance party, after-work canoe trips and lots more, including a who’s who look at who’s making waves in Yellowknife’s social media scene. Read on…